Dim Lights

Over the last couple years I have watched the Southern California Poetry community take a hard shift. Particularly in the Inland Empire. If you know me, you know I rep A Mic in Dim Lites like a gang and pay homage when ever the opportunity presents its self. For those of you who dont know the story, here it goes:

I started attending Dim Lites when I was 17, I am now a month away from turning 30. Crazy how time passes. I moved from Maryland and had little source of a support system here in California. My background was in dance, not poetry. I was in no sense of the word a “Poet” when I first started. To keep it all the way real, I only had 3 poems, all about how boys suck and how I was a heartbroken mess. When I discovered Dim Lites, a space with only 10 people attending at the time I had no idea how important the power of words could be. As a dancer, movement was everything. It could express all the things my mouth never had the courage to say. Until I was surrounded by people who spoke their stories unashamed, with so much love, it shined through the dimly lit stage and past a microphone. I realized my belief in words not having value only existed because I was never listened to. No matter how un-talented I was when I entered into this community Dim Lites was a safe space, was a family. This was more important than any amount of recognition I recieved. The ability to create a family when you think no one is willing to embrace a hot tempered 17 yr old girl still figuring out who she is can be priceless.

Besskepp, host and founder of Dim Lites, alongside of JB, resident DJ started Dim lites so that people much too far from Los Angeles could have a home to share, to build,and to love. They paid rent without profit from the venue for too long to remember. Dedicated their Thursday’s, every Thursday for 13 years to make sure people had an open door to walk through when the world felt like a boarded up warehouse. This is what community is made of. Dim Lites became the 2nd largest venue in Southern California to run every week. We grew from 10 poets, to well over 100, not because of talent but because of love. We spit poems, cyphered outside, ate afterwards, spoke of dreams and art without the mention of fame and paychecks. You had to earn a place to stand, not through your number of followers on twitter or CD sales but through artistic growth and support. I remember Besskepp, pushing me to become ready enough to even ask for my 1st feature. Nothing was given. It is a privilege to be an artist, to speak into others and has more responsibility than most of us can imagine.

Over the years I have grown tremendously as an artist. Being one of few poets that has lived off of my art. I have been able to do what I love while being a single mother and still paying my own rent, putting food on the table and not having to take another 9-5. But lets be clear, this did not happen over night. I worked, as we would call it, regular ass jobs while building myself as an artist. If you love something enough you sacrifice. I learned this from Besskepp, JB, Mark Gonzalez, Tamara Blue, ManChild, Ami, Ghettospear, Dvooa, and a list of names that made Dim Lites home.

It seems now there is so many people coming into our community or some that have already been here, that have this sense of entitlement that because they have put in a year or two, made a CD and are trying to go on tour with 5 poems in their pocket that they dont have to earn the respect and loyalty of those who paved the roads to even make poetry a space to make money. I was blessed to be brought up, surrounded by poets who did this with their hearts before their wallets. I would go to an open mic, whether Da Lounge, Dim Lights, GREEN, Ugly Mug, World Stage, Doughbois, etc, etc. and see legends in our community share, joke, laugh, encourage and write because it was their way of building a better world for themselves then the one we live in. In one night I could see, Mark Gonzalez, RAC (now Rachel Mckibbens) Bridget Gray, Shihan, Besskepp, Sekou, Steve Connell, Talaam Acey, Jaha Zainabu, Reeves, Alice the Poet, Poetri, In Q and God knows how many others spit. This inspired a next generation of Javon Johnson, Thea Monyee, myself, Gina Loring, C-bone, Nikki Blak, Judy Holiday and the list goes on. Dim Lites was also home to artist other than poets, I remember us being the space where you would see Blu, Aloe Blac, Kevin Sandbloom, Jimetta Rose, Dez Hope, Faahz Triune, before they ever had a name behind them. We were home to San Diego poets Ant Black & Rudy Francisco before Elevated was ever created. To bay area vistors like Saint and Ner City. To wondering poets across the nation looking to feel loved.

This was what creating legacy looked like. This seems absent now.

I started a youth poetry team 5 years ago, because Bess taught me how important it is to invest in our community, to keep it alive. I am proud to say that my kids are some of the best youth poets under 21 that Southern California has to offer including Tammy Vaitai, Tray Bain, Krys Bragg, Ashlyn Elizabeth, Sila, Wasabi, Jacob, April Rojas, Ivan, Jerimiah, who all started at Dim Lights. But this was not done by myself alone. These kids are a reflection of so many of us from Me to Javon Johnson, to Shihan, to Bess, to Rudy Francisco, to Ant Black. All of this to say, if we are not encouraging and supporting those people who never thought words had value then how will they ever discover their story is important. If we are not supporting the venues that were created for all of us to have a safe space then they will die. If venues are not working towards making each other better then we are no better than the vultures that tear us down. If we are not loving those who may not know how to write their story well enough to wow a crowd how will they ever grow to be better?

I would have never in a million years thought I could do half of things I’ve done with poetry, but because of people who had faith in art, and loved no matter how terrible the metaphor was, lol, I was able to accomplish so much more than I ever imagined. Dim Lights is a legacy, is a home, is an open door. I ask that if you want these places to stay alive, to a provide a place to build community and most of all family, don’t just Re tweet this or Re post, but come support. Listen. Learn. Share. A Mic & Dim Lights have survived 13 years, moving into 3 different venues, generations changing, competing venues showcasing on the same night but we can not continue without your loyalty, and love. Join us every Thursday we’ll be “sitting our asses in these soft ass chairs” ” building insight” at A MIC IN DIM LIGHTS!

Thursday’s
9pm
$5
300 W. 2nd St. Pomona CA 91767

Your Ride or Die Alumni,
Simply Kat


18/30 Nikki

The climax

begins with a slow clap

one set of hands pounding crescendo

joined by every leading role,

This is how corny inspirational movies are done.

When someone tells you

they are carrying life

in the middle of Denny’s

on a Saturday afternoon

most people smile

act excited

say congratulations

When she told me

"I’m pregnant"

A slow clap was the only

logical response.

grabbing waitresses

and random strangers

proclaiming to the world

"SHE’S HAVING A BABY"

She laughed at how ridiculous

of a spectacle I made

but doesn’t understand

that celebration

must be shouted

when a gift

gives back.

She, been giving life

long before tiny hands lived inside of her.

She got a quicksand tongue

that lures you in slowly

shows me how to sit still

watch the world before I speak

calculate, breathe,

and cut if necessary

that everything and nothing

is fair

that judgment is a slight of hand

She sits poised without trying

smiles with her whole face

I watch her eyes to see wheels spinning

Big Ben cased inside Aphrodite

There is so much love charging through the war of her.

She is a walking cathedral

check the detail head to toe

and now held underneath stretched belly

an alter I rest my confusion at often

She listens

without auto-correct

lets me be loud and foolish

lets me be hippy and sage

shows me how peace and switchblade

can parade in stiletto and fishnets

braids unpredictable into subtle

like red bottoms flicking light

in curved switch

pay attention

there is always something to learn

I am often clumsy with my words

too pit bull not to bite

she does not flinch

knows how caged and abused women

show their teeth

Shows me how a mean bark

can keep the trespassers at bay

how collars are unnecessary

when you are holding your own leash

she is the chain link fence

and the taunted dog

ready to protect and defend

sees women before the

sticks were rattling against their cages

and understands the gnarl that comes after.

Like any classic film

she ends her speeches to me

in laughter

triumph

and clever wit.

all while growing a sequel inside of her.

We talk music

build soundtracks

before most can

press fingers against a note

I love how she fashions herself

into any occasion.

A blank canvas

she can portrait in seconds

She speaks of tiny brown birds

playing at her feet

of husband and heart

and beauty

speaks of prayer

and war

and responsibility.

On Saturdays we take off our

revolutions

sit in the potential of us

foreshadow what the world

is holding secret

roll credits

and black screens

until theater lights raise

and we can applaud

the next masterpiece

to come


17/30 JB

He be repping 209

like he never left home.

Loyal

Keep true to good music

and soul

and friends without waiver

We stood the test

Of lines crossed

and

Labels unpeeled

and ache

and heal.

He kept me secret once

like boys and mason jars

keep fire flies

as night lights

They like the way we sparkle

just for them

I misunderstood

glass for Styrofoam.

thought I was hidden

Like someone catches spiders under cups

just to toss them out.

Was too young and tampered with

to understand sacred

He would always tell me

chill

wait

be patient

and still tells me

After years of settling

into a body I now own and

don’t know how to market

He is all marketplace

with charisma,

quiet

and smile placed neatly

in aisles

He likes things to be aligned correctly

in their place

shoes kept crisp in cardboard

records in cubes

he is all straight angles

with curve ball surprise.

Cares for kids left behind

Moves them forward

with firm hands

Touches like man and saint

Cooks chili like uncles

brew down home

Teaches me how quite men have a lot to say

if you pay attention

Teaches me how good fathers are grown

long before children are birthed

How friends stay longer

than secrets

How fireflies

can decorate ceilings into night skies

once they know they are not spiders

He lets me speak

crude

and wide hip

bar stool talk

Lets me side eye and cry in the same sentence

He laughs with full face

and speaks with heart rumbling

Shows me how men love after

you have left

consistent

still

How friendship is made

dropped

and then caught

and nurtured

How love is not lost

when it has never left home

He is Saturday night revival

stuffed into broad chest

carrying Thursday on his shoulder

He wishes me hope in every conversation

reminds me of the good, they can never ram sack

Tells me to keep my chin raised

just wait

One day a man will come

you don’t want to be caught with your head down.

Jokes until the meanwhile turns into present.

This is how the world spins without letting us feel it turning.

Patient

Chill

and on axis

Everything in its place.

Loyal

to believing that some things

are sacred enough to keep safe

when the world

doesn’t know how to handle fireflies

still learning to be stars.


16/30 Sonya

1st impressions do not stick

with women made of silk.

I thought,

Too much

Not my cup of tea

Do not pass go

Or collect $200

Walls rapid fire

Extend like berlin

Making clear boundaries

She all sledgehammer and smile

Walked full figured

With all of her too much

And jasmine tea smooth

Held out her hand

Said “You gonna like me, whether you like it or not, because I like you”

And collected her $200 

This is how we began

She fought for me without fists

I wasn’t accustomed to 

Such ninja tactics

Had me hand over my heart

Willingly

Showed me how ballroom chandeliers

Synch themselves into Eiffel Towers

How to love with 

loud mouth

Open mind,

And a broken heel

Can not stop the switch of a 

Typhoons direction.

We eat

At spots no one can find us

Twirl in kitchens 

Around home and broken

Until we are whole together

Cry unashamed

Speak the thoughts

No one wishes to see

Place thick bodies 

Side by side

Like 12 year old 

Sleep overs

Talk DC and country

And misunderstood mothers

Talk love and car crash

Yell change through our teeth

Until our mouths turn silver

We are the cliff and jumper

She shows me how to clean out

The worst of me

Says fair

And forgiveness 

To a girl who rocks

Grudge

Like newborn saviors.

She tells me anyway

Has faith that her fight 

For me is stronger

Than the ones against me.

We be human together

Be face full of pretty 

And chest full of monster

Be whole hearted

And half library

Movement starters

And armed guard

She tells me when she is tired

When she is loose thread

I pray behind her back

Pray she is always safe

Pray she is peace

And head full of calm river

She shows me how to stand upright

After they have taken your mask

After you have surrendered

Let them see you 

Full 

Bare

And shining

Shows me undeniable

And defiant

How big sisters pave roads

For little ones to walk 

Graceful

How to set down pebbles 

When there is no Goliath left to fight

A necessary tactic when learning 

How to love yourself again

Say love

And worth

And fight

For what’s behind

The 1st impression

She won the battle of me

showed me how 

Women fight for each 

Without ever raising a fist.


15/30 Donny

Clocks stop in his presence

Can’t keep time on something ageless

Midnight dare not puff out its chest 

to such

Lightening

He, who thunder learned 

how to walk alpha

Old school covered in new year’s confetti

Philly smooth talk

W/ country ethics

Cali sunshine under his nails

He talk & ask on purpose

Makes sure you want the answer

Before he hands it over

Precious

I am not careful with my wishes

Throw my curses about

As if no one is listening

I suppose most people never did

The day I felt like an undertow

Breathing in circles

Through gills I was never given, 

I called.

I told him, how my life had been too iron

Too thorn and prick

Too much rain cloud 

and not enough cleansing

There’s no way out for roses

Who wither 

before they break through the soil

When you cannot see the sun

How must you believe in it?

He spoke, the way I imagine

Valleys teach mountains

the importance of holding up their peaks

Said, 

You are not given a choice 

of how much snow will fall, 

or wind will crash against

Your crumble, but you must never speak 

Of becoming ruins or sand

It is not your place.

Do not speak to me of giving up

When you have been given 

so much fight, 

So much stature above the hills

Mountains are built to carry forest

You must not complain of a couple pines

Blocking your view of the sky. 

A valley

An unsuspecting slope

Steep and treacherous

Do not slide curses

You don not wish to fall

Face first into gravel

He speaks of now

And accounted for

And fire to metal

And with your own 2 hands

Cradles low and gradual

Patient to show you the shadow 

You can cast

When you are too scorned

By the sun on your back

Parks his voice in the thick of you

Plays his words like needle to vinyl

Listen for the crackle

Listen for the wax to spin 

when clocks have forgotten how

There is no right time to end

Or begin, just today

Suspended, 

Impossible 

Played on repeat

A Joyful 

Fats Waller 

Good time

Dwele

Nina

Mos

Cab

& Hathaway

Follow the tracks of him

Classic

Clocks stop to listen

He talk and ask on purpose

And I am much more careful 

With my curses

Mountains shouldn’t ever wish to be 

Rubble

A Valley taught me that.


14/30 …

A lifetime has grown between us
but I still serenade Brooklyn beats
in memorial of you.

On the days you come back to mind
after vacations of silence,
I listen to all the things
you left whispering beneath the skin of me.
Past lives rising from their forgotten graves.
I never seem to successfully erase you.

Time never ticked on cue for us.
So we weaved minutes into rest stops
until the years passed in full sprint
a decade trying to cure abandoned into home.


We don’t speak anymore
Don’t check in
or punch clocks
in the face
for making us wait.
This is what moving forward
after mourning
feels like.

But I still remember
The good of us
The em path,
bursting pastel of our touch
The fixed headlight
without asking
The holding of hands
to defy American perfection
The digging of secrets
Pathways to the center of the universe
Energy harnessed into time capsules
waiting to be discovered
The alchemy
Of turning love into thin air.

You taught me that the difference between
Poem and Journal entry,
is that we must make life into art
Bend our words backwards and forward
to showcase our resilience
Our flexibility to cartwheel

the soil when it wants
to lie dead and un-spinning
Showed me how to breathe
when my lungs only knew smoke and ash
How to surrender the walls I had worked
so hard to build,
Crumbling bricks into olive branch

You showed me how to go after

what is complex and misunderstood

I remember the night we went to a house club

You loved the thunder clap

the bass

made your body dance

Peven Everett on high blast

your feet light and smooth

carrying the heavy weight of you with ease.

For the first time I did not dance

Did not know the steps to such a foreign sound

but I sat

watched the freedom climb

back into your chest

like a vigilanti

Gave praise to the music

to love you in ways I didn’t know how.

That night you taught me

that real love is letting the body find

what is best, even if it is not me.

That real love is just loving anyways

To nurture a spirit from the sidelines

if that is all your called to do.

Like

The way you cooked me meals

you had no desire to eat

The way you prodded at my dreams

The way you smiled like

you were plotting take overs

How you wrote in code

to make listeners activate

The way you dressed in the morning,

meticulous

the right shirt to pants

blazer to ball cap

shoes to watch

You watched my daughter

like a forecast

Taught me how men can cherish

things they didn’t create

How faith is unseen

but never absent

I learned how to pray

with exposed spirit

open and unashamed

Twisted my legs to wrap you closer

when mouths were

shotgun blasts

piercing through the god of us.

I, so much human

and reckless to kill

creation.

The night you left,

I cried

holding back stay

holding back why

and I’m sorry

and us

placed a vacant sign on the

chamber like an unloaded rifle

told myself there is no danger

when triggers aren’t pressed

close between finger and metal

so I stood at a distance.

You looked at me in mid chapter,

taught me that love is not held in

desperate words but in

ring of church bells

That they rest still,

more than chiming

That when they decide to ring

they are loud and hopeful

That they are not cracked and statue

like the ones fighting for liberty

That connections do not break

when sermon is not delivered

That love is unconditional

and has no concept of law

no fear of ax when it is rooted deep

That even when cut

it will expose the rings of its journey

Of how the heart is not a box

to be filled

but to be bottomless in its giving

You were the first I gave everything to.

the first to make my hands pry open

and trust letting go

and how to start from scratch

when the picture has not been painted

to my liking

but how there is always more canvas

to turn life into art

to not toss the mistake in the trash

that the drafts are just as important as the masterpiece.

You were my first draft.

framed to remind love

it will never be thrown away.


13/30 Rudy

Our first introduction

was actually our 2nd introduction

I never remember when it all started

But he enjoys accuracy

like a freshly pressed shirt

Makes sure to correct me every time I start in the middle

Keeps flashbacks like file cabinets

Time lines the walk of us

So I can trace a straight line

When we become squiggle and cursive.

They joke how he curses more around me

Laugh and say its my fault

That I must have tainted him

They forget he is my senior

Forget he is not persuaded easy

Forget the titan he keeps secret

Underneath a clean line up

He is too precision to ever follow

A fingerpainting.

But I’ll take the blame.

Let them believe he is lamb instead of lion.

I show my teeth enough for the both of us.

But he knows I am more feather than fist.

Knows I can’t walk waist deep

Into an argument

Without raising my voice

Or flailing my hands

Like a stranded ship

He sees me,even when I forget he is looking

Listens too carefully to every word.

Doesn’t understand

why I won’t look at a blueprint,

Why I rather build without instructions.

Tries to spoon feed me debate and

other side of the street.

Teach me gray area

And 360

How to dance the tightrope

between the answers.

I ask

Why is grey so still?

Is it keeping secrets?

Does it dream in violet?

I frustrate his logic

When he challenges the pit of my stomach

I make him speak my language.

And when he speaks of love

He outlines his mothe

rHis Sister

Dogbites, suffering & Belize

Brothers and medicine men.

Pride, father, and Machismo.

He speaks Black

And holy

Loves in book and footnotes

Says I love you

With a full mouth

like merlot spilling

On ivory linen

He has the heartbeat of a racehorse

Breathes too heavy

We are constantly running away

and closer together

A swinging pendulum

An offbeat metronome

He does not dance

Except for that one time

Cusses loud about sports

And bullshit ego’s un-earned.

Walks into my house

Like its his own

places shoes at the edges of beds

That have never seen a kitchen floor.

I cook

He eat

Calls me by my last name for fun

Kathryn, when he’s sincere

Our volume and tone be

Out of pocket.

Except when we are deep in thought.

He is a thinker.

A strategist

A ball point pen

Creased pant leg and

Platinum bow tie.

If you ask meI like him better in hoodies

And kicks

I am a feeler

An atom bomb

A crumpled photograph

Sideways smirk

And silk stockings

We are mixed whiskey & ginger

Go well together

Balance bitter

And straight shot

Park bench therapists

A rubix cube with 3 sides same color

Always got shit to work on

To Overcome

To Intercede

I once gave him a dream catcher for his birthday,

because he told me can’t see in his sleep.

I wanted to make sure

he can catch his heart

trying to skip out in the middle of the night.

Tell it to stay.

Like he tells me to wait

To recognize what is said out of anger

to not be so quick to transform

Pulsing organs into porcupine

Teaches me to lower my defense

Even when he is raising his

Teaches me drawbridge

tells me I am not crazy

for feeling

reassures my hands to keep failing

in the midst of a storm

that the waves will not let us drown if

we stop going against them

That art can always be better

I remind him that we can always be better

to feel more

to think more

to stay longer

to not run

but make sure your legs are ready to jump

when tide and shore meet.

When we met, I never remember

but to know we will never part

is what I’ll never forget


12/30 Krys

She got a delayed laugh,
Smiles uncontrollably when she’s angry
And a body that makes me
Want to punch grown men in their throat

A cold piece of work
Like any diamond would be

An inverted tornado
a spinning top mind
Complete, with calm eye accessory
She’s an iron made vault
Keeps secrets like age old recipes

We exchange family
Over coffee, and open stoves
Kitchen tales of absent fathers
Passed on to next generations
Plant growing mother’s on our tongues
Proud and hopefully

I admire how cactus she has become
Blooming without rain
Holds her own water within her
While I am wishing for husbands
To fall from the sky.

We sketch dreams together
She all architect and chandelier
Me, all sandpaper and logic
We become open door

Somedays she is mad scientist
Lays her blueprints across coffee tables
Decodes heart songs in poem,
blares rap lyrics
flawless and ladylike
Pounds her first when she real talk
Pursed lip,
Eye brow raise
And lip smack
Combination
She is every corner of the earth
5th element

Gives me hope

in how new age women

rule this ice age.

she tells me

to keep paving roads

dirties her own hands

to till and dig

with me

says I love you

gangsta and whole chest

We learn how to escape the numb

together

cry out car windows

and on street curbs

when the wind stops us in mid step

she listens well

absorbs everything

a rapture of Malcolm and Martin

love and fight

LA girl

and

whole heart

I am not ready for the grown in her

still big mamma interrogation

still want to protect

the soft parts of her

would sock a boy in the chest

that cant recognize how

much of a gift she is.

how much jazz

and pulse

and onyx

and butterfly

olive branch

holy grail

and water lily

she is.

She reads me better than most.

carries bridges

like tapestries

when I am on the verge of

dead end

She is a push in the right direction

More friend than student these days

Proof that I must have done something right

She shows me how respect is done mutual

and how love can burn legacy

long after I am dim light

I tell her I am proud of the woman she has become

but never forget

I will still pop a boy upside they head

if they forget her greatness.


11/30 Treesje

I can’t remember when she snuck past the gates

she must of hopped the fence

because new friends are greeted

with deadbolt and no key

around these parts.

We always spoke,

but at a distance

its hard not to speak to a

girl scout selling thin mints

with eyes like a

sunflower.

She got a way of getting

to the parts of you

you hide out in the open.

The first time I seen her

burst at the seems

I smiled

told her

"I liked who she was past the pretty"

Thought I could walk her safely

through the gutters of herself.

Silly me,

I didn’t know she would

be a tour guide

through the smile I had forgotten.

We laugh devilishly at how men

think they own parts of us that were never for sale

I give each of them nicknames

like passwords

its important to know who programs

your heart.

Her nails always done

like a fresh coat of paint

on a refurbished muscle car

men love her from the same garage and dust cover.

I watch women wonder how

so much kindness

can be stuffed in sparkling gift wrap

They are so used to girls next door

being brown paper bag.

We cry happy

and translate reckless into freedom

She shows me how a woman

cares for herself and community at the same time

lets me play

and dance

and drink

and remember why sirens like us were built.

I am always harsh tongue

and dried roses

cracked vase

and mosaic

too many curse words

and “I wish a motherfucka would”

She, two parts sunshine with a dash of rain cloud

ignorance when appropriate

house party in stilettos

too many blessings

and “I don’t know”

I tell her to take what is rightfully hers

that the heavens are lined with white roses

waiting on magnolias to bloom

into a history of open field

that she is not plucked for bouquets

but grown, left rooted

in the center of deserts

to inspire the world

of what kind of glory

can grow in the midst of so much

tombstone and wild west.

She believes me, even when I cannot

speak this for myself.

picks me up from wrong sides of the street

when my direction is unclear

tells me there is nothing left to discover

behind closed walls

to dress up, and flirt

with whatever is left

in my body.

That I still have a lot left.

and I must not speak alone

that love is not a ransom note

that love is choice

and thick skin

and sometimes new

That I am worth scaling a chain link

even when the gates stay locked.

She prays like care bear

open chest and childlike

The day she slid past the guards

I was thankful,

handed over a key to the front door

and smiled at the idea of having guests.


10/30 Ant

He is my mother’s favorite poet

and ain’t nobody gonna tell her different

She says she likes the god fearing in him

says she likes the honesty.

He does this well

Makes us believe again

that grace isn’t only for the church.

I interrupt his higher education

to read poems over the phone

I have no patience to understand degrees

he breaks down my inner workings

tells me what my sub conscience

is singing

when I am too focused on the

instrumental

He is all Jackie Robinson and Muddy Waters

A blues riff in the middle of national anthems

Dougie Fresh and Ghostface

Old school and too damn honest

an unpredictable piece of apple pie

with a switchblade lodged in the crust.

Serves honest like temples resting on the edge of cliffs

A dangerous faith, when you must jump to notice

you ever had wings to begin with.

He teaches me humility

how greatness can still be starstruck

how hunger for more

can still enjoy food trucks

more than silverware placed on both sides

He teaches me how powerful

silence and a smile can command a room.

When I am all rabbit hole

scratching to not fall further

he is, open hand and step ladder.

Once,

while driving side streets to avoid LA freeways

and me, rambling in his ear about the purgatory of love and chance

he spoke of how hearts origami themselves into opportunity

how we fold and bend

crease sharp edges to learn sacrifice

that love is not about the clean paper we start as

but what kind of crumple and masterpiece we create in the end.

He speaks of marriage

and his wife

like a treasured landmark

like a hymn learned in Sunday school

helps me to understand

the learning is just as beautiful as the

answer.

that sometimes their are no answers.

He helps me edit prayers

with red pen salvation.

"you gotta be clear in what your asking for"

I will probably thank him first

for the future husband waiting for the final draft of me.

He shows me how culture and race

are more complex than skin

Reminds me I am an X-factor

and my lack of education does not

cage my potential to serenade lessons

into flight

and risk.

He questions everything

like the roots of an adolescent oak

wondering how tall it will grow

above the surface

will its branches support the weight of

3 bluejays or 7 sparrows?

will the leaves stay green longer if the air does not slap into them as hard?

will the bark hold tightly

to the trunk of body

who is always dreaming of being

something different?

I wonder how someone can grow so comfortable

into pushing boundaries.

He is oblivious

thinks that he is a dandelion

in a forest of evergreens

not realizing he

is the snow they look up to

when the ground grows soft and cold

his words, a changed season

paving a way for spring

allows us to make angels in him

when we are too scared to talk to God directly

He is a memorial

of stability

that women like me

pay homage to

when we have praised

calamity too often

My mother says she can appreciate

how he can relate a story for everyone to believe.

This is what he does well.

Makes me remember that our lives deserve

to be believed in.